Sir Paul McCartney to receive honorary degree at Monday’s Commencement ceremony

Sir Paul McCartney is on campus and will receive an honorary degree at Commencement on Monday, according to two individuals involved with Commencement proceedings.

The University has a longstanding policy of not identifying the recipients of honorary degrees before the Commencement ceremony itself. But the 65-year-old McCartney — of “Beatles” fame — was spotted in the Elm City on Sunday, and the sources said he will be honored at Commencement on Monday.

Sir Paul McCartney attended a dinner at the Yale Center for British Art on Sunday with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, University President Richard Levin and other dignitaries.
Isaac Arnsdorf
Sir Paul McCartney attended a dinner at the Yale Center for British Art on Sunday with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, University President Richard Levin and other dignitaries.

It will make for a British-themed weekend following the Class Day address of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Sunday. McCartney was spotted Sunday evening at the Yale Center for British Art, where he was said to have attended a dinner with Blair, University President Richard Levin and other dignitaries.

Earlier in the day, Blair mentioned the British rock icon in his Class Day speech as he gave advice to graduating Elis on what to expect in their future.

“Be prepared to fail as well as to succeed, and realize it is failure, not success, that defines character,” Blair said, adding: “Sir Paul McCartney reminded me that the first record company the Beatles approached rejected them as a band no one would want to listen to.”

Honorary degrees are awarded by the Yale Corporation, the University’s highest governing body, based on the recommendations of a committee comprised of Corporation members, faculty and alumni.

The identities of the recipients are closely guarded secrets and are not traditionally revealed in advance of when the degrees are actually conferred. Ten such degrees were awarded last year to accomplished individuals including pianist Emmanuel Ax, South African Chief Justice Pius Nkonzo Langa and author Peter Matthiessen ’50.

In an e-mail message late Sunday night, Levin offered his own interpretation of the McCartney sighting.

“Here’s one comment: Yesterday … all my troubles seemed so far away. Now it seems as though they’re here to stay. Oh, I believe in yesterday,” Levin wrote. “Or perhaps another, relative to the Sir Paul sightings: Here, There and Everywhere.”

Commencement is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. on the Old Campus.

—Harrison Korn, Reed Reibstein and Victor Zapana contributed reporting.


  • Kristen

    What a well-deserving honor for Sir Paul! He truly is an amazingly gifted and talented musician. I love his music; whether he was with the Beatles, with Wings, or his solo work. Congratulations Sir Paul; keep on rockin'!!!

  • Patti

    Not bad for a kid from Speke (Liverpool)!

    Sir Paul is one of the most influential forces in popular music.

    Congratulations Sir Paul!

  • Saffy

    I would have preferred to hear Sir Paul speak on class day than Blair…..

  • Yooooooooooooooko

    Congrats to Paul!

    Is he now "Sir Doctor Paul" or "Doctor Sir Paul" ????

    God bless him! He rocks man!

  • Penny Owen

    I am absolutely delighted to hear the news of Paul's doctrate! Congratulations to him, he, thoroughly deserves it!
    He is a very gifted man God bless him.
    May he bring joy to people through his music for many years to come!

  • James (ret.FDNY)

    As one of the chief architects of The Concert for New York @Oct.'2001, Mr. McCartney provided an immeasurable amount of morale-boosting & emotion-releasing opportunity within the historic confines of MSG primarily for the benefit of many of the 9/11 first responders…..Quite an organizational effort within a rather compressed amount of time…..All thanks to 'himself' & all of the other cooperating individuals, musicians, statesmen/women etc. that he was able to animate/motivate, in the most selfless of ways, to show up on that most memorable of evenings.

  • DoodleLover

    Bravo, Sir Paul! Welcome to the Yale family!

  • Hieronymus

    Obsequious panderers, blinded by celebrity.

    John is dead.

  • Brett

    Uh, he's more than just a celebrity. He's one of the most important musicians of the 20th century, and his impact on the world and our culture will last forever.

  • DoodleLover

    But clearly, Paul ISN'T dead and he's a Yalie now.

  • Hieronymus

    One of the most important musicians of the last century?

    Can you say "Band on the Run?"

    Yah, he's o-kay--and likely "important" (in the way that, say, George Soros is important, i.e., he is relatively generous with his wealth) and, more importantly, alive--but, really, do you seriously consider him one of the GREATEST (as opposed to "important") musicians of the prior century?

    I say again: blinded by celebrity.

  • Martha

    I would argue that Paul McCartney is one of the 20th century's greatest musicians. His imagination and artistic innovation as a member of the Beatles remain unmatched in that no band or artist since has done as much as they did to open people's minds and open up the world of popular music. You could argue that he couldn't have done it without John, George and Ringo, but the other side of that coin is that they couldn't have done it without him. If when you say "musician" you're referring to his raw skill on the guitar, then perhaps he hasn't earned himself a superlative in all caps, but only to look at that would be to take an incredibly closed minded view. All things considered, I don't see how you could reasonably suggest that Paul McCartney's artistic and humanitarian achievements are unworthy of recognition.

    I read your comments a lot, Hieronymus. Your tendency to try to assert your own superiority leads me to suspect that you like to disagree with people because it makes you feel less insecure, because you like the feeling of power that pushing people's buttons gives you. If, however, you truly feel that a dissenting voice will inspire more intelligent discussion on the YDN comment boards, then I hope you will consider that taking a more open minded approach might be a more effective way of accomplishing that goal.

  • DoodleLover

    Apparently, my "Paul is dead" reference didn't really register. Anyway, I am certainly not blinded by celebrity. As Martha mentioned above, perhaps Sir Paul isn't the "greatest ever" when it comes to sheer virtuosity in vocal or instrumental capacity, but as far as innovation in composition goes, I put the Beatles on par with (or above in certain aspects) the likes of Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky, Bernstein, Vaughan Williams. Even though I consider myself well-versed in music history and composition, this debate gets so personal that I'm not going to bother with it. I'm certainly not going to preach to you what I believe to be true in this highly subjective issue because for all I know, Hieronymus, you could be a music professor whose opinion carries even more credibility than mine. Perhaps you should give others the same benefit of the doubt.

  • Jas.McH.

    How refreshing it is to witness such a mostly civil, spirited & pure debate on a particular topic by all parties involved versus those who would simply choose to publish arguably subjective, unilateral kiss 'n tell tomes primarily (though often not exclusively)in order to finantially capitalize on 'situations' and/or relationships.

  • harmony

    The fact that 'Paul' is receiving a degree from Yale should arouse suspicion for those aware of what is really going on in the world. Yale being home to skull and bones 322 a knowm satanic lodge along with all the other freemasonic illuminati lodges around the world. I notice Tony Blair among the throng, a 33 degree mason who believes he is one of the elite and we the common people are 'goyim' which means cattle. These people are heavily influenced by The Talmud an old jewish guide book which gives the elite permission to deceive, cheat, have sex with children and commit all manner of atrocities with us the 'goyim' as they consider us to be hated by G.od and they are the chosen ones. They are black magicians that are obssessed with numbers, ritual and alchemy which is mostly what we call modern science these people are in nearly all positions of power not serving the people but their own agenda.